Former Yankees broadcaster Spencer Ross was in the booth for Tom Seaver’s 300th career win, facing the Yankees while with the White Sox. As told to Post columnist Mike Vaccaro.
I know I was a Yankees broadcaster.
What you might not know is I called Tom Seaver’s 300th victory at Yankee Stadium for WPIX, Channel 11, on Aug. 4, 1985. Our three-man rotation (Phil Rizzuto, Bill White, me) had me doing play-by-play the final three innings.
WPIX had invited Lindsay Nelson to join us in the booth to provide background. From 1962-78, Nelson had been an original Mets broadcaster and, as such, had called virtually every one of the 367 games Seaver had pitched for them from 1967-77 — including the first 189 wins of his career.
You might not know that instead of calling those historic final three outs, I turned to Lindsay and told him I felt he was the only man to record that memorable moment. He told me later that in all his years of broadcasting that was the kindest, most selfless thing another broadcaster had ever done for him.
And by the way? As much as I would have been honored to call it myself, there’s no question I’d do it again.
You also might not know that I was rooting for Seaver that day … and also rooted for him that Wednesday night in 1969, July 9, when the Cubs’ Jimmy Qualls spoiled his bid for perfection one out into the ninth inning.
I grew up loving Whitey Ford and we became close friends. That blond-headed kid from Queens and Tom Terrific were inarguably the greatest of the New York pitchers in the second half of the 20th century.
(I take, I guess, a little bit of liberty in adding Sandy Koufax to that list. Hey, he was a Brooklyn kid who began his career at Ebbets Field, and I played basketball with and against him at P.S. 103 in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn.)
Seaver, Ford, Koufax.
I round out the all-time New York starting five with two pitchers I think no one alive ever saw pitch: Christy Mathewson and Carl Hubbell, both of whom pitched for the New York Giants. Mathewson won 372 of his 373 games for the Giants from 1900-16, King Carl all 253 of his, 1928-43.
All five are in the Hall of Fame. Can any city beat — or even match — that quintet?
It was truly a blessing to grow up in the decade of the ’50s and watch the greatest of the greats go about their business, sitting in the bleachers at Ebbets Field for 60 cents. The Polo Grounds? My dad would give me the $1.25 for grandstand seats — you were 500 feet away from home plate. There were three or four of us who would jump on the subway or bus in Brooklyn and see 30-40 games each summer.
The subway was a nickel.
Dad had only one concern when he came home from work: “How was the game, boychick?” He passed away more than 60 years ago. I’d just turned 16. Miss you, Dad. I think you might have been proud of me to see what I’ve made of my life. It has indeed been a joyride.
Spencer Ross, born in Brooklyn, attended New Utrecht High School then went to Florida State on a basketball scholarship. Since the 1960s, his has been one of the most familiar voices in New York sportscasting, working play-by-play for eight of the city’s nine local pro teams — only the Mets have escaped his vast vocal purview.